Sligo’s preparation for their upcoming All Ireland League campaign continued with a well contested Connacht senior league battle at Hamilton Park on Saturday. Corinthians claimed the points with 4 tries to Sligo’s 2 but Sligo coach Simon Galvan will be pleased to have had the opportunity to try out various combinations and with the progress shown by his charges.
Played in ideal conditions for open Rugby it was Corinthians who seized the initiative with an early converted try following some loose defending by the home outfit.
The visitors further increased their lead after 7 minutes with a well struck penalty following a late Sligo tackle.
Sligo were stung into action and their forward pack began to take control of the close quarter exchanges. The back row of Rory Kerins, Paddy Conlon and Aidan Mc Nulty were especially prominent and were providing their back line with quality possession.
Sligo’s opening score arrived after 12 minutes when Mark Butler raced through a gap on the Corinthian 10 metre line. The influential out half’s break took him to within 10 metre of the visitors try line before he offloaded to the supporting Matele Fifita who made no mistake in powering over for his teams opening score.
Sligo continued to press,but their momentum was halted when the referee had to stop the game for a prolonged period for an injury to a Corinthian player.
On the resumption Sligo came close to adding to their try tally when Fifita and Winger Hugo Lafite both came close but the tribesmens line held firm. The visitors then put pressure on their hosts and Sligo found themselves defending a scrum 5 yards from their own line. A fine carry from Mc Nulty relieved the siege before the ball was quickly moved wide to David Gerrity. The full back made his way into the Corinthian half before linking up with speedy winger Sean Bagnall,but last gasp defending halted the Sligo charge on the 22. Sligo continued to press, and were almost rewarded with a try when Rory Kerins hacked through a loose Corinthian pass and outpaced the defence to the free ball but the referee adjudged the ball to have gone dead and the chance was lost. Sligo did add to their total on 35 mins with a well struck Butler penalty to move the score to 10 points all at the interval.
Fifteen minutes into the second half saw the Galway side move into the lead with a try from inside their own half following some loose Sligo defending. Sligo’s concentration lapse proved doubly costly when Corinthians added a further try moments later to move into a 10 point lead. A further Corinthian penalty was added following an infringement at the ruck.
Sligo bravely got themselves back into the game and were soon camped in the visitors 22. Frankie Feeney added 3points to his teams total with a well struck penalty with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Sligo then brought their total to 18 points when some fine play from Kerins and Lafite gave their team position in the Galway sides 22. The ball was moved quickly wide to winger Bagnall who outpaced the defence to score in the corner.
Sligo pushed hard to try to earn the winning score but in their eagerness the ball was turned over and Corinthians went the length of the pitch to move the final score to 28 points to 18 in their favour.
Despite being a division below Corinthians in the All Ireland League, Sligo can take confidence from this performance which showed that they are well capable of competing at Senior level and will look forward to their AIL campaign with relish. Next Saturday sees Sligo travel to Dubarry Park in Athlone to take on Buccaneers. The kick off time will be announced later in the week.
Sligo; David Gerrity , Hugo Lafite, Gavin Foley, Mataele Fifita, Sean Bagnall, Mark Butler, Billy Leahy, Wesley Maxwell, Ross Mannion, Adrian mc Hale, Michael Mc Morrow, Jamie Bowes, Paddy Conlon, Rory Kerins, Aidan Mc Nulty. reps Gary Conneely, Charles Langley, James Wilson, Andrew Williams, Frankie Feeney.